There are several restaurants and eateries in Chicago that have made such strong first impressions on me that I have returned on several occasions after the first visit. One restaurant that I had gone to for a Sunday brunch has made its way onto my list of repeat restaurants: Buzz Cafe. I am a constant puppet to the monster — my appetite — and like a compliant marionette, I obey my hunger.
It was off to Buzz Cafe with a very good friend for an early evening bite to eat. Having experienced the satisfaction of a brunch at the eatery, I figured it would be a good idea to try their dinner menu. Now, this is not one of those restaurants where you are greeted by a size zero post high school graduate who looks like a model. This is not a place where your food comes out on colossal plates with a dab of something in the exact centre, garnished with a sprig of mint and glazed a bit too perfect with some sauce. This is an authentic spot for putting your teeth to good use, gnashing away at the wonder in front of you.
My friend and I started with a veggie deluxe plate. Okay. So this was a rather large plate, but it was filled with raw carrots, mushrooms — and I do not mean the kind you smoke, cucumber, pita bread, roaster pepper hummus, and black bean hummus. Where are the Vanity Fair food critics when you need them for authentic culinary reviews? Talk about rapture. Talk about enjoyment. Talk about no compunction from humming: La, la, laaaaa. I have always had the usual hummus, but doctored with black beans and done up with roasted peppers, this is fast making hummus my most favourite dip. And considering the raw vegetables, eaten along with the hummus made them quite appetizing as rabbit food goes.
Where we got daring was with the main meal. I am primarily vegetarian, but I do bend at times. What is the saying? A man who does not bend will snap. I must say that I am far from having a major breaking point. However, biting into some meat dish has never hurt. So, it was burgers. My friend had a brie and apple cheeseburger with a house salad flavoured with a house vinaigrette. Oh my God! It was not so much the presentation on the plate as it was watching my friend’s eyes rolling around in her head after each bite. Yep, she was satisfied. For me, I settled for a classic cheeseburger. When it came to the table, well-done as I had requested, I was rather pleased to see that the ground beef was not the Star Trek auto-generate patty that you get at many fast food burger shacks. Plain lettuce, tomato, and onions never tasted so good on a cheeseburger. And I never hummed la, la, laaaa with as much zeal as I did when I put my teeth to work on that burger.
To wash it down, my friend had a large latte. When the server had brought it to the table, we looked at it and said, “Damn, now that is a cup of coffee.” I had an iced mocha, to which my friend commented that it definitely was not a frapuccino. Guess who will be going out of the way to Buzz Cafe for coffee instead of next door, across the street, or around the corner to Starbucks. No coffee should ever be so sweet that your gums throb nor should it be so bitter that you want to feast on a cup of sugar. (Insert sigh of pleasure.) Buzz Cafe got it right.
Well, it is not one of the restaurants that gets the envious Michelin star, but I give it a gold star. It may not be a constant haunt for the Hollywood crowd, genuine patrons being the frequent visitors. When you can make a vegetable plate bring about a smile, have coffee inflict immediate addiction, and cook burgers that can make you question your vegetarianism, you must be doing something correct. Hmm. Thanks, Buzz Cafe. You are doing it right. I will see you again soon.